Homewood Cluster Market Analysis
Operation Better Block
Operation Better Block (OBB) is a community-based organization serving Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. Homewood is a historically African American community that neighbors a rapidly gentrifying area
OBB adopted a Cluster Planning strategy to guide neighborhood change in the interest of Homewood residents. At the heart of the community’s vision for its business and institutional core is a desire to restore the Business District as a center of African-American culture and arts. OBB also sought to couple its community vision with an analysis of residential market trends in order to assess the strengths, opportunities, and challenges that face the community; this information would give OBB an opportunity to leverage those trends so that Homewood could control its own economic destiny.
Fourth Economy Consulting and Mongalo-Winston Consulting developed a market analysis that provided quantitative estimates and projections of business and consumer activity, as well as qualitative case studies. The analysis included a series of precedent studies of cultural districts that have spurred neighborhood revitalization as a guide for the development of Homewood’s Business District. Comparable cultural districts were selected from a national scan on the basis of whether they occurred organically, were anchored by ethnically diverse populations, or were led by strong local organizations that were spearheading revitalization.
Our team also supported this effort with detailed and rigorous estimates of the residential market to assist OBB in attracting investment, developers and tenants. We also developed analytical tools that will help OBB to determine their focus or emphasis on building new homes, renovating existing housing stock, improving rental conditions, and setting appropriate investment and subsidy targets.
OBB began their planning process in January 2014. Since then the staff of OBB has engaged thousands of Homewood residents and households in an inclusive, participatory community land use visioning process, driven by a few basic affirmations:
- that the community of Homewood has important assets and intrinsic value;
- that the residents of Homewood should determine what happens in Homewood;
- that Homewood’s revival will be achieved through the promotion of indigenous leaders, homeownership, and economic investment.
OBB continues to use the tools and resources Fourth Economy created to guide their efforts to stabilize and redevelop residential areas, and to promote local business development in their business district.